Skip to main content

Books on Marriage....finally found one I like!

     A lot of books on marriage just frustrate me.  They seem to over-generalize: “all women are like this and this” and “all men are like this and this”.  "Men are from Venus, women are from Mars."  "Women are emotional and intuitive"; "men are strong and make decisions based on data."  I read these books and think, that doesn’t describe me, that doesn’t describe John.  Are we really that a-typical?  There are very few books on marriage that I have found helpful or that I would recommend.

     So, I was really surprised when I started reading Fierce Women:  The Power of a Soft Warrior by Kimberly Wagner.  I resonated with so much of what she said and was convicted in each and every chapter.  I wasn’t sure I liked the choice of word “fierce”.  I think I personally would prefer “strong”.

     I come from a line of strong women.  My great-grandmother’s family moved from Indiana to Nebraska in a covered wagon and lived for a while in a sod house.  When she was 18, she married a 30 year old man, presented him with three children, and then passed away when my grandma was only two years old.  My great-grandfather’s second wife also passed away.  His third wife was a widow with her own children who she treated preferentially over her step-children.  In fact, life in the house was so miserable that my grandma would not even speak of it as an adult.  My grandma was a working girl at a factory during a time when not many girls went to work.  In spite of her difficult childhood, she grew up to be a beautiful, gentle, but strong woman who raised four children.  My mom is also a gentle, but strong woman.  She and my dad, who was headed to Africa as a missionary, carried out their courtship by correspondence.  In Africa she gave birth to four children and buried one of them.  She worked outside the home for as long as I can remember, kept the family together, was a supportive wife, and never complained about all she had to do.  She supported my dad at all times.  One summer she kept the family going in Indiana while my dad took a summer course at Syracuse University in New York.  She drove from Indiana to Colorado (and vice versa) more than once, with herself as the only driver in the car.  Even now, though she is not as robust as she used to be, she gets herself nicely dressed every day and helps with as many chores as she can.  I’ve never seen my mom cry unless she had a good reason.  She’s never been a drama queen or pitched a fit.  (We used to say she was “yelling” at us, and she’d always reply that she didn’t yell, which was true enough!)  Her strength, like my grandma's, was rooted in a deep faith in God.

     So, I’m not bragging when I say I’m a lot like my mom, my grandma, and even my great grandma.  I guess it’s in my DNA.  I’m not sure how much of it is strength and how much of it is just stubbornness.  So, even though I’m quiet and calm and even gentle, I think I am also strong.  In fact, I’ve been told that I have a “gentle arrogance”.  When a friend first told me that, I was kind of mad at him because I recognized the truth in it.

     Kimberly Wagner says that the fierceness of strong women “grabs on to the hem of God’s will and won’t let go.  [It's] a fierceness that determinedly stands strong in a gale of opposition.  This kind of fierceness looks fear in the eye without blinking and confidently forges ahead.”  She also says men are often drawn to fierce women … but then the very thing that attracted them becomes the thing that is hard for them to live with. 

     Some characteristics of fierce women are:
I was given this Coke on Friday when I ordered a sandwich and a coke.  
  •         Determined
  •         Aggressive
  •          Passionate
  •          Controlling
  •          Faithful
  •          Decisive
  •          Bossy
  •          Manipulative
  •          Disciplined
  •          Loyal
  •          Cold
  •          Courageous
  •          Intense
  •          Intimidating
  •          Heroic
  •          Impatient
  •          Devoted
  •          Persevering

     Do you recognize yourself in any of those?  Yeah, me, too.

     Mrs. Wagner examines the word “helper” in the Bible.  The Hebrew word is “ezer” and it is not a wimpy word.  It’s not being a submissive doormat who spends her day being bossed around by her husband and who can’t think for herself.  It means to aid or provide needed help.  It is the same word used in reference to God as a “helper” to his people.  Being a helper to our husbands is “not an insignificant assignment but one of eternal consequences”.  It means aiding your husband in becoming all that God has created him to be.  The problem is that we women often think that being our husband’s helper means we need to “help” him improve!  As Mrs. Wagner says, “With ‘helping him improve’ as my job description, I became his worst nightmare. … The problem with our marriage wasn’t my fierceness, but the problem was my understanding of what I should do with that fierceness.”

     Some of the subjects she deals with are:
·       My tendency to view my husband’s decisions through the narrow grid of my tightly held opinion.  I like to be in control, the flip side of helping.
·       My ingratitude leads to a demand for more.
·       My pride forces me to focus the marriage on myself and my needs.  I become obsessed with getting love.
·       Fear causes me to believe things about my husband,our marriage, or myself that are not true.

     Mrs. Wagner spends much of the book working through an acrostic based on the word “APPRECIATION”.  She encourages us as women to work on fixing ourselves, not on fixing our husbands.  She makes it clear that if your husband is abusive or caught in addiction, steps need to be taken to confront his sin.  It is not in your job as helper to submit to his destructive behavior.  

     Her conclusion is that to be a beautifully fierce (again, I’d prefer the word “strong”) woman, you need to make sure that Christ is the center of your devotion and affections, recognize that your husband cannot ever meet all your needs, and allow the Potter to mold you into His image.

     I did think that Mrs. Wagner divided the chapters up in some funny places that made the book feel a bit choppy and broken up.  Her personal real-life illustrations and stories were really what gave her authenticity as an expert on the subject.  The book is about marriage, yes, but it is written to women, not men.  So it's not going to work to give your husband a copy of the book so he can work on his problems. :)

     For all of us fierce women whose fierceness has caused conflict or problems in our marriage, I highly recommend this book.

     A second book on marriage I recently finished is The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.  This is a good book and I would recommend it to anybody who is struggling in their marriage.  But it didn’t really resonate that much with me.  I actually liked the movie, Fireproof, better than the book.  I don’t think reading this book would be a waste of your time, but I just don’t have a rave review for it.

     Do you have any good recommendations on books about marriage?



Anna Gallop said…
What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp is really good.
Anonymous said…
Tim Keller 'The meaning of marriage' is a good one.

Popular posts from this blog

Practice Hospitality

My mother-in-law, Jean, is an amazing person with many gifts.  One of the first things I noticed about her when I was but a young bride, was her gift of hospitality.  It was nothing for her to invite a large group of people over, make each one feel welcome, cook a big meal,and seemingly do it without stressing herself out.  I don't know if hospitality just came naturally to her or if she learned it.  In this picture you can see Jean throwing a party for a class she taught in Nigeria.  

I believe that for me it has been a learned skill.  My parents were hospitable and it wasn't unusual for us to have guests over (though usually not as many at a time as my mother-in-law would do!).  But when I started living on my own, I had to learn hospitality.  The first time I invited somebody over for a meal, the lid got stuck on the pot of vegetables, I put too much salt or soda or something in the muffins, and I forgot to serve milk and sugar with the hot drinks.  I've gotten much bett…

Graduation Season

It's the season for graduations!  Yesterday I attended two graduations.  Thankfully one was in the morning and one was in the evening.  There were differences and similarities.  

The morning graduation was at the flight controller and meteorologist training school.  Six of the graduates attended our Bible study regularly and a seventh came occasionally.  We grew to dearly love this group.  

The evening ceremony was at our MK school and all of the graduates this year were missionary kids and one pastor's kids; the majority of the missionary kids were from our mission.  So I've known most of these kids since they were little. 

The similarities were:
1.  Both groups were fairly small (30 for the flight controller school and 13 for our mission school).  Both groups were very close to each other; at the flight controller school they have all classes together and live in dorms together for 14 months with only a few days off and no real vacations; at the mission school the kids have …

Beyond Our Ability to Endure

I've been working on our home assignment audio-visual presentation.  It's been a lot of work, especially since it requires sorting through hundreds of pictures to choose the ones we want to use.  I was hoping to put together something that would be really "Wow!"  Well, in the end it's just a power point with some music and a few slides coming in with a fancy spin.  But it's our story, and our story is nothing more than God's story when it comes right down to it.  In fact, I have used Big Daddy Weave's song, My Story in part of the presentation.  If you're not familiar with the song, you can listen to it here
As I looked over the past four years of this term there were days that we felt we had reached our ability to endure.  We started the term in July 2013 and we were still recovering from the flood of 2012.  We have all of our "normal" stresses such as living in an extremely hot climate, living in the poorest country of the world, livi…